West Cork youth honoured at Garda Awards

Posted on: 20th January, 2015

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Last year, a total of 147 young people were nominated for the West Cork Garda Youth Awards. This figure demonstrates the contribution being made to their community by the youth of West Cork. Inspector Brendan Fogarty, Bandon Garda Station, and Chairman of the Judging Committee, remarked “The Judging Committee would like to acknowledge the extremely high standard of nominees from across the entire spread of West Cork.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the members of the public who took the time to make the nominations. An Garda Siochana would like to pay tribute to SuperValu for their continued sponsorship of the Youth Awards.” Garda Damian White, PRO for the Youth Awards, stated that it was important to recognise that all the nominees would benefit, not just the Award winners. All other nominees will receive a Certificate signed by their local Superintendent to highlight their nomination. Adding this to any CV will most definitely enhance it.

Pic above: Superintendent Colm O’ Sullivan, Clonakilty, Chloe Kelleher, Overall Award Winner, Adam Walsh, Field’s SuperValu Skibbereen.


Chloe Kelleher, Bawnishal, Clohane, Skibbereen (18 years): Chloe took the initiative to raise much needed funds for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin. Chloe was inspired by her cousin, who received excellent care in Crumlin in the first year of his life. Chloe initially organised a school raffle, and an underage disco. Chloe decided to produce ‘The Little Fighters Cookbook’, and 1,000 copies of the cookbook were produced. Following a full sell out of this print, a cheque of €12,200 was handed over to Crumlin. At this stage, with Chloe’s permission, Crumlin set about organising a further print of 2,000 books, which were sold in Dublin, and this raised a further €42,200 for Crumlin. Chloe was nominated for the ‘Pramerica Spirit of Community Award’; where she was named as one of Ireland’s top 20 volunteers. The Little Fighters Cookbook was also declared the best ‘Irish and European Best Charity and Fundraising Cookbook’, and further to this, Chloe was also interviewed live on air on Morning Edition, on RTE Radio 1. Chloe was Grand Marshall for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in 2014. Chloe also volunteered to assist in an orphanage in Romania in the summer of 2014, where she gave freely of her time and energy for a 10 day period.

Rachel Dhingra, Belgooly,  (17 years): Rachel has fundraised for St Vincent de Paul, and has worked in their shop in Kinsale. She also completed the Kinsale Breast Cancer 10km Walk, as well as being involved in her Community Tidy Towns, and helping the Kinsale Sevens clean up operation. Rachel has lost both her father and her aunt through suicide, and it is her determination to raise awareness of this important issue that she is most passionate about. Rachel has been elected School Prefect in Kinsale Community School, where she provides support for those who have lost a loved one through suicide. Rachel is involved in the Kinsale Youth Support Services (KYSS), and she encourages others to talk openly about their feelings and to give voice to their concerns. Rachel has fundraised for Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland, and last July she completed a Parachute Jump, raising in excess of €1,200. Rachel is passionate about promoting a positive mental health message, and she has used her own inner courage to be a role model for others. Rachel has demonstrated to others that you can make a difference, and her example is one that we can all be inspired by.

Gemma Hurley, Curraghnaloughra, Drinagh, (15 years): Gemma is a very active volunteer with Co Action in Dunmanway. Gemma’s sister attends there, and Gemma has a strong desire to give back to the service. When assisting, Gemma always has a smile on her face, and brightens up the lives of those around her. Gemma is a student at Mount Saint Michael’s College in Rosscarbery, and she has won a Student Merit Award, and been honoured as Student of the Year. She is a member of the Student Council, and has also won an Irish Scholarship in Connemara. Gemma has volunteered with the Jake King Memorial Day over the past 5 years, and she is responsible for organising correspondence, and monies raised go towards the Children’s Leukaemia Association. A neighbour, and close friend of Gemma, Andrea Cruise passed away in March 2013, and Gemma has been active in the Andrea Cruise Memorial Night, where funds gathered goes to Marymount Hospice. Gemma is very giving of her time and energy, both in her school surroundings, and in recognising worthwhile causes close to her. Always helpful above and beyond, at home and within her community, Gemma is very worthy of recognition.

James Barry, Cregane, Timoleague, (15 years): James has been an active member of the Timoleague Defibrillator Group for the past 8 years. He has regularly assisted in fundraising for the group, and he has gained an array of qualifications in this time. He holds a qualification from the Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council, as a Cardiac First Responder. His mother has Type 1 diabetes, and James went about volunteering to be trained in this regard. He went to the Diabetes Day Centre in CUH, and learned how to test for blood sugar levels, and how to react in the vent of a diabetic coma. James competed in the Young Scientist and Technology competition, with a project on the awareness of blood sugar levels and their implications on health. For this he gained First place in the Junior Social and Behavioural Category, and he won the Psychological Society of Ireland Special Award. Indeed, he presented his findings for an article in The Irish Psychologist journal. James has represented Munster in table tennis, at Interpro and Junior British League levels. James has also acted as a coach and mentor in table tennis to a young first year student, who has a disability. James has coached the school table tennis team, who won the Munster title, and bronze medallists in the All Ireland at under 15 level.




Antoinette O’Keefe, Garrendruig, Kilbrittain, Co. Cork (16 years): Antoinette has been a volunteer with Bandon Athletics Club for the past three years. There, she helps with the training of younger children in the club, and has been a great asset in this regard. Antoinette has assisted with a project in association with Bandon Tidy Towns, where she was involved with painting local park benches to improve her local community. Antoinette was also part of the YMCA group that recently made a short film about health issues, which focused on the pressures facing, and choices to be made by teenagers. Antoinette completed a 5km run to raise money for the Daniel Cronin Fund. She has been a tireless worker in her local Youth Café, promoting its merits widely. Antoinette is a member of the Youth Café’s youth forum, and led a working group which made posters about the café and staffed an information stand in a local shopping centre. Antoinette has been involved in a School Enterprise Project in Saint Brogan’s in Bandon, raising funds for the Make Your Mark on Cancer campaign. Antoinette has been taking part in a pilot radio podcast programme, and she has been part of a project which has put together a broadcast on improving relations between the Gardai and teenagers in the local community.


BANTRY (Two Winners)

Deirdre O’Sullivan, Seskin, Bantry, Co. Cork (17 years):

Deirdre has been volunteering with Deerpark Nursing Home since 2009, assisting the elderly residents with physical and recreational activities. Deirdre has also assisted with Co Action, and she undertook to aid an adult with a hearing disability. Deirdre learned LAMH signs in order to communicate effectively, and staff there soon noticed that Deirdre’s visits resulted in a significant improvement in interaction with her client. Deirdre has given up her time to aid the Co Action Sibshop, which is focused on the siblings of those with special needs. Here she helped run a variety of activities. Deirdre undertook a six-week Personal Development course, which gave her an insight into the challenges faced by those with Dyslexia or Dyspraxia. She has organised a swim from pier to pier in Bantry Harbour, which was supported by Steve Redmond, the Oceans Seven Swim Challenge hero. This event raised in excess of €800 for Co Action. Deirdre has also assisted with the Co Action Summer Camp, where she helped the children participate in activities and events, including a day trip to Skibbereen Show. Deirdre has a qualification in Water Safety, and she has been a member of the Bantry Atlantic Challenge Crew for the past two years.

James Kelly, Gortnacarriga, Goleen, (14 years): James is a dedicated and outstanding representative for his locality in Goleen. He has played for Ireland in table tennis, and in 2011, James won every single major honour in Ireland, including the Irish National Title, as well as winning the Yorkshire Open Title in England. He has competed at international level in competitions in Scotland and Belgium, winning gold on both occasions. James led his school team, (Lissagriffin National School), as they competed in the All Ireland Schools event. Lissagriffin was the school with the smallest number to choose from. James has been extremely active in developing and promoting his beloved sport, and he has travelled widely within West Cork to give it prominence. James has been selfless by coaching table tennis to coach players from Co Action in both Bantry and Skibbereen. James has also used his abilities to help out at the table tennis event in the Special Olympics. James’ contribution to his community is not just confined to the sporting world, as he has volunteered with his local Community Council, where he contributed to such events as Know Your Neighbour Day, Cultural Night, and Goleen Summer Festival. James also finds time to help with the locals Tidy Towns group, where his positive attitude is evident for all to see.



Laura O’Gorman, Burgatia, Rosscarbery, (17 years): Laura is an active volunteer who takes the time to visit the elderly in her local community. She partakes in weekly visitations, seeing to their needs and carrying out chores for those who cannot fend for themselves. Laura is involved in fundraising, and has raised money for the Hope Foundation by way of organising flag days. Laura brought together a team to partake in a fundraising table quiz for the ‘Jeep for Jason’ campaign. Laura also travelled to Lourdes as a helper, where she demonstrated a fantastic ability to help others. She was a stalwart worker on this trip, and left a great impression on those who benefited from her involvement. Laura is a member of her locals Foróige club, and she is currently undertaking to organise a Community Defibrillator course for youth members, and this will benefit the wider community. Laura is a member of her local Scor group, and she plays in Clonakilty Community Hospital once a month. Laura has been a great help to her grandmother, who suffered a stroke in 2013. Laura stayed with her grandmother for two nights a week, as well as providing support and help around the house. Indeed Laura still stays over once a week, despite being in her sixth year in school, showing her commitment and dedication to others.


MACROOM (Two Winners)

Vera O’Riordan, Umera, Macroom, Co. Cork (18 years): Vera has been a star member of her local Girl Guides group for the past six years. She has achieved Gold Award, the highest standard achieved in the Guides, by way of completing modules in community involvement, personal development, and law. Vera is also qualified to take up to 10 other Guides on a camping trip, under her supervision. Vera has undertaken roles such as Quartermaster and Healthy Officer, as well as fundraising for a new Guiding campsite. Vera is highly motivated, and has achieved the Bronze Gaisce Award. She is a member of the student council in her school, Saint Mary’s in Macroom, and has assisted in fundraising for the Hope Foundation. Vera has served as youth representative on the Macroom Parish Council, and has attended Comhairle na nÓg youth forum. Vera entered a poem ‘Change Please’, on themes on social activism, into a European poetry competition, and it was published in an anthology of poems in ‘Stealing Shakespeare’s Pencil’. This is a stunning achievement, and the first copy of the prestigious publication was presented to President Michael D. Higgins, who is a strong supporter of the project.

Tara O’Riordan, Rahalisk, Ballinagree, Macroom, (18 years): Tara is a student of McEgan College in Macroom, and in the course of several years, she has been assisting in an event called ‘Showstoppers’, with all proceeds going to local charities. Tara helped to organise events such as cake sales, to support the local Saint Vincent de Paul shop.  Tara partakes in the annual 5km run in aid of the Arc Cancer Support House. Tara has taken part in an annual fundraising walk in Ballinagree to raise money for the Cope Foundation. As a member of Aghinagh Macra na Feirme, Tara helped organiser a fundraiser for MS Ireland. Tara is a fully qualified life saver, and a certified first aider. Tara is active in sport, and has been awarded best female athlete in her school, through her achievements of winning honours in football and basketball. Tara is also a member of West Muskerry Athletics Club, whom she represented so well by winning County, Munster and All Ireland medals. Tara has supported her Athletics Club by helping in an annual bag packing event, to maintain ongoing club activities. Tara also participates in a monthly event for the elderly in her community, which serves as a great social setting for interaction between the generations.



Chloe Keane, Bandon, Co. Cork (16 years): Chloe is a friendly, chatty and energetic young person, who is a valued member of her local Youth Café, the Funky Fish. She has been a huge contributor to the Café, as lately a lot of work has been taking place to improve the Café and reach out to new members. Chloe has a great instinct and she offered practical, positive help by making posters, and setting up an information stand in her local shopping centre. Chloe is currently actively engaged in a programme for a new local Community Radio Station. Chloe has been involved in writing, editing and producing a podcast for internet radio. As part of this, she has interviewed local teenagers, as well as youth workers and Gardai to examine issues of concern to teenagers in Bandon.. Chloe was involved in raising funds for the ‘Make Your Mark On Cancer’ campaign, and she also completed a 5km run for the Daniel Cronin Fund. Chloe was involved with the Tidy Towns Committee to improve areas within her home town of Bandon, and her aim is, in her own words “make my family so proud”. Chloe has certainly achieved this, and has contributed enormously to her community.

Rene Murnane Hayes, Pairc na Carraige, Bantry, Co. Cork. (14 years): Rene has been actively involved in the Childhood Cancer Foundation’s ‘Light It Up Gold’ campaign, whish is designed to raise awareness about the issues surrounding childhood cancer and to help fund supports for parents and children around the country affected by this disease. Rene herself is a survivor of childhood cancer, having been diagnosed with leukaemia in 2011. Rene was only 11 years old at this time. Rene commenced a 2.5 year programme, which included a six-week stay in hospital to deal with the side effects of the treatment. Despite these difficulties, Rene has made an excellent recovery and is a shining example to all of us. Rene has become an ambassador for the Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign ‘Light It Up Gold’. Rene also fundraised in the Shave or Dye event, when she dyed her hair pink. Rene is now using her key experience to help others who are battling cancer. Rene has volunteered in Barretstown Camp in Kildare, which is a specially designed camp that provides therapeutic recreation programmes for children with serious illnesses and their families. Because she can empathise fully with their situation, Rene can offer assistance in a very real and practical way. Rene has shown great courage throughout her illness and continues to live life to the full.

Conor O’Callaghan, Abbeylands, Kinsale, Co. Cork. (13 years): Conor was just six years old when he was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, a muscle wasting disease. Despite this, Conor has never allowed this to limit his resolve or outlook on both life and sport. In 2011, Conor began laying table tennis with the Beechhill Table Tennis Club. Initially, Conor played in the physical disability section, but he developed his skills and hand eye co ordination to an excellent level in a short space of time. Conor has no difficulty in competing and holding his own in the mainstream section. When he became a student in Kinsale Community School, Conor encouraged others to play, and a club was soon formed. Conor was part of a team that won gold at the Munster Secondary Schools competition, and went on to win bronze in the All Ireland. Conor was selected to play for Ireland in the World Junior Games in England, and he represented his country proudly, securing a gold medal. Conor was honoured with the Munster Table Tennis Hall of Fame Award this year, which is a wonderful recognition for his work and achievements. Conor’s resolve in the face of adversity is an example to all.


GROUP AWARD (Two Winners)

Life Leeches Group

(Helen O’Shea, Ellen Creedon, Claire Harrington, Elaine O’ Sullivan) Scoil Phobail Beara, Castletownbere, Co. Cork.

In their fourth year in Scoil Phobail Beara, these students completed a project Life Leeches – Trafficking Changes Lives. It aimed to raise awareness of human trafficking. They set out to learn about this important issue, and to increase awareness of the topic. They also wanted to be agents of change, and in some way to make a difference. As part of the Young Social Innovators programme, they researched the subject comprehensively. They then set about with liaising with a wide variety of groups in the field, such as Ruhama, Cois Tine, Sexual Violence Centre Cork, Immigrant Council of Ireland, HSE Anti Human Trafficking Team, United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, and the EU Anti Trafficking Investigation Unit. They compiled a detailed report on their findings, and they were invited to present their research and 22 recommendations to the Joint Oireachtas Justice Committee in Leinster House. Following this, their report was forwarded to the Minister for Justice and Equality, and their suggestions regarding ongoing training and measures for raising awareness of the issue were recognised as being especially relevant. This group of students have been very influential amongst their peer group, and are positive role models. They certainly have created greater awareness of human trafficking locally, nationally, and internationally.

Project Romania Group

(Jack Wilson, Mark McCarthy, Sean Masterson, Siun Casey Ellis, Noreen McSweeney, Maya Sullivan, Tiffanie Charles) Maria Immaculata Community College, Dunmanway: In June 2014, this group of students, along with two teachers, travelled to Bucharest in Romania with the charity organisation Habitat for Humanity Ireland. To facilitate this trip, they had to fundraise to the tune of €13,500.  The students worked tirelessly, organising events such as bag packing, a tractor run, charity shave and dye event, family fun day, all of which proved to be a resounding success. Upon their arrival in Romania, they worked exceptionally hard, proved to be very dedicated and they were working in conditions in temperatures of 30˚ Celsius. Their work consisted of renovating houses for local children in need. This entailed plastering and insulating the houses to help improve living conditions for these children. The students worked from 8.30am-5.30pm each day, and then in the evening time, they volunteered their time to interact and play games such as rugby and soccer with the children. In spite of their difficulty working conditions, they actually succeeded in doubling their expected work, which is truly inspirational. The Irish Ambassador to Romania, Mr. Gerard Corr met with the group, and expressed his sincere thanks to the students for work, and how they represented themselves, and their country.



Tom Reilly, Ballnamaul, Kinsale: Tom Reilly has worked tirelessly on a voluntary basis in Kinsale and its wider area for a long number of years. Tom has made an enormous contribution to the Kinsale branch of the Irish Red Cross, and he became Chairman in 2006. His influence has been felt across County Cork, and at a National level. Tom is a First Aid Responder Trainer for defibrillators, and has on a voluntary basis conducted courses all over Ireland for a variety of groups and professions. In Kinsale, he has provided training courses for the Kinsale Lions Club, who installed defibrillators in various locations around the town. Tom is a county and national trainer in Occupational First Aid Instruction, training both young and old at this very high level. Every year, Tom goes to Kinsale Community School in a voluntary capacity, each year bringing all Transition Year students up to certification level. Along with Bob Cast, Tom carried out duty in First Aid at over 40 day long events in 2013. This would total an estimated 350 hours of voluntary work. Tom is a supervisor at the Red Cross teenage discos which are held at the White Lady Hotel in Kinsale. In September this year, Tom also supervised at the Junior Certificate disco with about 30 other volunteers, door security and Gardai, and this event raised €10,200 for charities in Kenya and Peru, as well as for local causes such as Kinsale Scouts and the Kinsale Youth Development Fund. Tom joined Kinsale Youth Support Services (KYSS) in 2010, which promotes positive mental health in Kinsale and six surrounding parishes. Tom became vice chairman in 2013, and he has contributed enormously to the work done by KYSS. The HSE provided funding for a Youth Worker, added to by fundraising carried out locally. In 2013 Tom took on the responsibility of being the line manager for the Youth Worker. This saved this voluntary group a large sum of money as Tom brings his experience as a senior manager of a local company. Tom is also a member of the Kinsale Youth Development Fund, another voluntary group, which provides funding for counselling for young people whose parents cannot afford to pay. Tom Reilly is a man of complete community service. He has, over the years, been a great help to a wide range of people. He goes about this in a very professional and quiet manner. Tom has never looked for recognition for all the work he has done; he has done so for the betterment of his community. Toms efforts in fundraising have benefited those in Ireland, but has also helped those in famine countries and other disaster areas. Tom has been involved in the Parish Finance Committee in Kinsale since 2009, bringing a wealth of knowledge and good practice to the group. He is described as sincere, genuine, trustworthy, and he is respected and valued by all he comes into contact with.


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